Retail sales jump nearly 14% as shoppers return to high street

A woman wearing a face covering
A woman wearing a face covering - (Copyright PA Wire)
15:24pm, Fri 24 Jul 2020
CBAD8A00-D2B9-4E0E-ADDF-D0366C357A34 Created with sketchtool. E9A4AA46-7DC3-48B8-9CE2-D75274FB8967 Created with sketchtool. 65CCAE04-4748-4D0F-8696-A91D8EB3E7DC Created with sketchtool.

Retailers saw another major boost in sales last month as spending rapidly rebounded after the coronavirus shutdown.

Sales volumes jumped by 13.9% in June compared with the month before, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

It brings total sales across Britain close to the levels they were at this time last year, after two months of double-digit growth.

An average of what analysts were predicting, compiled by Pantheon Macroeconomics, had expected an 8% rise.

Volume of UK retail sales - (Copyright PA Graphics)

However, all is not good news, as some types of shops were left behind by the seeming boom last month.

Richard Lim, chief executive of Retail Economics, said: “The retail sector bounced back as the reopening of shops released pent-up demand for some retailers.

“But the recovery is being felt unevenly across the sector, with clothing retailers remaining under significant pressure.

“Some consumers searching to break the monotony of being at home headed for the high street, but numbers remained considerably lower than pre-Covid levels.”

High street shops are often losing out to online retailers, who have seen a boom in business during lockdown as people are in all day to receive parcels.

UK retail sales - (Copyright PA Graphics)

Online spending as a proportion of overall spending dropped to 31.8% in June from 33.3% in May – an all-time record.

However, it is still well above the 20% reported in February this year.

ONS deputy national statistician for economic statistics Jonathan Athow said: “Food sales continue above their pre-pandemic levels due to the closure of cafes, restaurants and pubs.

“Online sales have risen to record levels, and now count for £3 in every £10 spent.

“On the other hand, clothing sales remain depressed, and across the high street sales in non-food stores are down by around one third on pre-pandemic levels.

“The latest three months as a whole still saw the weakest quarterly growth on record.”

Labour’s shadow business secretary Lucy Powell said: “Whilst these figures are encouraging overall it’s clear that large parts of the high street are really struggling, threatening jobs and livelihoods.

“That’s why Labour is calling on ministers to launch a new £1.7 billion fightback fund to protect businesses and jobs in hospitality and on the high street, by giving local areas more flexibility over how to support their local economies.”

Sign up to our newsletter